in my path, I thought. No wonder he came to hate me, as

time:2023-12-03 08:45:11 source:Light Hands Net author:software

"My mother, with her good wit, saw there was something better than fun to be got out of this. She trained my memory of great things with it. She began with striking passages of history, and played the game with father and me. But as my power of retaining, and repeating correctly, grew by practice, she enlarged the business, and kept enriching my memory, so that I began to have tracts of history at my fingers' ends. As I grew older, she extended the sport to laws and the great public controversies in religion, politics, and philosophy that have agitated the world. But here she had to get assistance from her learned friends. She was a woman valued by men of intellect, and she had no mercy--milked jurists, physicians, and theologians and historians all into my little pail. To be sure, they were as kind about it as she was unscrupulous. They saw I was a keen student, and gave my mother many a little gem in writing. She read them out to me: I listened hard, and thus I fixed many great and good things in my trained memory; and repeated them against the text: I was never allowed to see _that._

in my path, I thought. No wonder he came to hate me, as

"With this sharp training, school subjects were child's play to me, and I won a good many prizes very easily. My mother would not let me waste a single minute over music. She used to say 'Music extracts what little brains a girl has. Open the piano, you shut the understanding.' I am afraid I bore you with my mother."

in my path, I thought. No wonder he came to hate me, as

"Not at all, not at all. I admire her."

in my path, I thought. No wonder he came to hate me, as

"Oh, thank you! thank you, sir! She never uses big words; so it is only of late I have had the _nous_ to see how wise she is. She corrected the special blots of the female character in me, and it is sweet to me to talk of that dear friend. What would I give to see her here!

"Well, then, sir, she made me, as far as she could, a--what shall I say? a kind of little intellectual gymnast, fit to begin any study; but she left me to choose my own line. Well, I was for natural history first; began like a girl; gathered wild flowers and simples at Epsom, along with an old woman; she discoursed on their traditional virtues, and knew little of their real properties: _that_ I have discovered since.

"From herbs to living things; never spared a chrysalis, but always took it home and watched it break into wings. Hung over the ponds in June, watching the eggs of the frog turn to tadpoles, and the tadpoles to Johnny Crapaud. I obeyed Scripture in one thing, for I studied the ants and their ways.

"I collected birds' eggs. At nine, not a boy in the parish could find more nests in a day than I could. With birdnesting, buying, and now and then begging, I made a collection that figures in a museum over the water, and is entitled 'Eggs of British Birds.' The colors attract, and people always stop at it. But it does no justice whatever to the great variety of sea-birds' eggs on the coast of Britain.

"When I had learned what little they teach in schools, especially drawing, and that is useful in scientific pursuits, I was allowed to choose my own books, and attend lectures. One blessed day I sat and listened to Agassiz--ah! No tragedy well played, nor opera sung, ever moved a heart so deeply as he moved mine, that great and earnest man, whose enthusiasm for nature was as fresh as my own, and his knowledge a thousand times larger. Talk of heaven opening to the Christian pilgrim as he passes Jordan! Why, God made earth as well as heaven, and it is worthy of the Architect; and it is a joy divine when earth opens to the true admirer of God's works. Sir, earth opened to me, as Agassiz discoursed.


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